COACH: Michele Durand
YEARS, RECORD AT SCHOOL: 12th, 152-138
LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 21-6 overall, 14-4 OAC
RETURNING LETTERWIN¬NERS (*indicates returning starter): G *Katie Mengos (Sr., 5-6), F *Joanna Snyder (Sr., 5-11); F/C *Cenzie Yoder (Jr., 5-11); F *Morgan Dumbaugh (Sr., 5-9); G Taylor Hermiller (Jr., 5-7); G Sara Kocian (Jr., 5-8); G Becca Saine (Soph., 5-6); F Katie Jones (Sr., 5-9); G Marissa Clark (Sr., 5-6); F/C Jordan Kimes (Soph., 5-11); F Mary Miller Soph., 5-10).
PROMISING NEWCOM¬ERS: G Brooke Espenschied (Fr., 5-8); G Carly Thomas (Fr., 5-7).
TEAM OUTLOOK: The Polar Bears have four starters returning from a 20-win season. ONU once again looks to be in contention for the OAC flag.
ADA – Ohio Northern’s women’s basketball team had a big year a year ago.
Now the Polar Bears are back aiming for more.
ONU returns four starters from a team that finished 21-6 overall and 14-4 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. ONU finished second to Mount Union (28-2) in the regular season and again in the OAC tournament championship.
The Polar Bears are off to a 1-1 start after losing in the finals of the McWilliams Classic in St. Louis.
The nucleus of the Polar Bears is back from last year and ONU was picked for second in the OAC preseason poll.
“I don’t think that means anything,” ONU coach Michele Durand said.
What does mean a lot is that there is plenty of experience returning.
One player who needs to be replaced is four-year starter Kara Dysert (Ada), who averaged 12 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds.
“Her rebounding, especially, will be tough to replace,” Durand said.
Polar Bears team leader and point guard 5-foot-6 senior Katie Mengos returns after averaging 5.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists. She’s already the school’s all-time assist leader.
“Her assist-to-turnover ratio is three-to-one,” Durand said. “She doesn’t score a ton, but scores when she needs to. She never loses her cool and is our unsung hero.”
The front line returns with 5-11 senior Joanna Snyder (Fort Recovery), 5-11 junior Cenzie Yoder (Celina) and 5-9 senior Morgan Dumbaugh (Ada).
Snyder averaged 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds.
“She’s a hybrid player,” Durand said of Snyder. “She can play everywhere. She’ll start at the four (spot), but can play a three. She can score from three and is good getting to the basket.”
Dumbaugh, a four-year starter, led the team in scoring last year at 12.4, while getting 4.3 rebounds. She also led the team in 3-pointers (45-of-114, 39.5 percent).
“She can score. She can shoot the three, drive or post girls up,” Durand said.
The center is Yoder, who didn’t play volleyball this year. She averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds.
“Since she didn’t play volleyball, she got to be in on our preseason conditioning,” Durand said of Yoder. “Right now she’s doing a great job and dominating inside. She can shoot up to 15-feet out and is a good passer. She has the potential to be the best girl in the conference.”
In contention for the fifth starting spot are 5-7 Taylor Hermiller (Pandora-Gilboa) and 5-8 Sara Kocian.
Players expected to contribute off the bench are 5-6 Becca Saine (Delphos St. John’s), 6-1 Jordan Kimes, 5-9 Katie Jones and 5-6 Marissa Clark.
Key freshmen include guards 5-8 Brooke Espenschied and 5-7 Carly Thomas.
The Polar Bears will once again push the tempo throttle to high and also want to roll out a press.
The key to the press-and-run game will be hitting the boards.
“Rebounding, that’s where we have to pick it up,” Durand said. “Cenzie, Joanna, Morgan and Taylor all have to pick up the slack (for Dysert). Rebounding is huge and we have to play good defense.”